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5 Ways to Quit Coffee and Boost Your Productivity

5 Ways to Quit Coffee and Boost Your Productivity
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I haven’t drunk coffee regularly in over a year. I’ll occasionally use it to push through a crazy short term project, but in the long run, I think it’s a bad bet. There are three main reasons for this:

  1. It’s Addictive. When you drink coffee regularly, you start to get hooked on it. Waking up without it becomes harder and harder since your body relies on the caffeine to get itself going. You forget how to fully energize yourself without a stimulant.
  2. It’s a Panacea. People turn to coffee when they feel tired or out of it instead of analyzing what might be causing them to be tired and out of it. Maybe they’re not sleeping enough, or not eating well, but if they always just turn to coffee, they’ll never fix these problems.
  3. It’s a Bad Trade-Off. When we think of coffee we normally think of the “peak” that comes from the caffeine hitting our system and making us more productive. But we forget about the slump that comes with it. Because of the slump, you’re actually more productive if you don’t drink coffee. Most of the time, this is what happens when we have a significant amount of caffeine:

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Coffee-effects-graph

    If you want to regain your productivity by quitting coffee, how do you do it? Everyone drinks coffee for different reasons, and your reason might be different than simply “for the energy.” Take a look at the list below, see where you fit, and then adjust accordingly.

    The Break Taker

    Sometimes we go get coffee simply as a way to take a break from work. It’s the modern version of a smoke break. You have a legitimate reason to leave your desk for 5 minutes since you need to stock back up on coffee. If you find that you’re going to get coffee just because you need a break from work, try spending those 5 minutes talking to a friend or going for a walk in nature. Both of these options will give you the short break you need, and help you return to work just as refreshed and energized as if you’d gotten a cup of coffee.

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    The Yawner

    Maybe you need the caffeine because you’re too tired to get through the work day without it. You have a cup right when you wake up and then keep drinking it throughout the day to keep up your energy. If this is you, then you should try addressing the problem at its core. What’s making you so tired all day? The most likely cause is not getting enough sleep, so see if you can adjust your schedule to get at least 7 hours each night. Once you’re better rested you’ll be much more productive and won’t be as reliant on the caffeine to get through the day.

    The Connoisseur

    Maybe you just love coffee for the taste. There’s nothing wrong with that. Coffee has a very diverse array of blends, roasts, flavors, and beans. But maybe you’re appreciation for it goes too far sometimes and you end up more wired than you’d like to be. If this is you, then try tea! With all the different types of tea leaves and all of the different regions you can get tea from, it’s even more diverse than coffee. You can even develop an appreciation for the different styles of making it, just as you can develop an appreciation for operating a fine espresso machine.

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    The Scatterbrain

    Maybe energy isn’t your problem, but focus is. It could be that you start working fully energized and ready to seize the day, but then find yourself checking Facebook, Twitter, email, texts, the news, etc. The caffeine helps you to focus in on what you need to do and blocks out those other distractions. If this is you, then you probably have a high stress level and tend to give in to your impulses to check all of your different apps and websites. Instead of using caffeine, try meditation. It helps quell the voices in your head pushing you to procrastinate, and doesn’t leave you exhausted from a caffeine crash.

    The Addict

    Maybe you started drinking coffee for one of these other reasons… but now you can’t stop. You just don’t feel like yourself when you’re “pre-caffeinated,” and the day doesn’t start until you’ve had your first cup. If this is you, then your body has turned down its own internal energizers since it knows you’re going to pump it full of caffeine every morning. You’ve become chemically reliant on caffeine to be at full energy. The fix here has to be slow and steady. Try reducing your intake by just one cup a week, and then eventually switching over to tea or water. If you quit cold turkey, you’ll feel terrible for a few days and it might not be worth the struggle. Slow and steady wins the race.

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    Now that you know which category you fall into, all you have to do is slowly shift towards a better solution to the problem you’re having. Soon you’ll be much less reliant on coffee, be more productive, and even save some money in the process.

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    Nat Eliason

    Nat is the founder of the marketing agency Growth Machine. He shares lifetyle tips on Lifehack.

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    Last Updated on July 21, 2021

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

    More on Building Habits

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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